Rumour Has It: Real Madrid must choose between Haaland and Benzema

By Sports Desk January 17, 2022

Real Madrid's squad is already packed with a magnitude of talent – and it could become even stronger should Erling Haaland arrive from Borussia Dortmund later this year.

Haaland has scored 78 goals in his two years with Dortmund – only Robert Lewandowski (107) has more in Europe's top five leagues – and would be a major coup for Madrid.

But while the Spanish giants remain confident of bringing in the in-demand striker from Dortmund, it could have a negative knock-on effect.


TOP STORY - HAALAND IN, BENZEMA OUT?

Karim Benzema is a much-loved figure at the Santiago Bernabeu and is enjoying another impressive campaign, but El Nacional claims that Madrid risk losing the Frenchman.

The report suggests that Benzema does not like the fact that president Florentino Perez is so fixated on bringing in a new player to lead Los Blancos' attack from next season.

While the 34-year is not currently seeking an exit, that could change should Madrid reach a pre-contract agreement with Haaland in the coming weeks, as has been suggested.

Benzema would not feel the need to move on should Kylian Mbappe join, though, as he considers that case to be different given the PSG striker is set to become a free agent.


ROUND-UP

Barcelona accept that it is increasingly likely Ousmane Dembele will leave Camp Nou as a free agent at the end of the season. According to Sport, Manchester United and Juventus have held talks with the player's camp, while Chelsea and Bayern Munich have an outside shot of signing the forward.

Arsenal have made their first move to sign Dusan Vlahovic from Fiorentina, with Corriere Della Sera reporting that the Gunners have tabled an offer of £50million (€60m) plus Lucas Torreira, who is currently on loan with the Serie A side.

Chelsea are interested in signing Layvin Kurzawa on loan as they look to bolster their full-back ranks. However, Fabrizio Romano claims that the Blues have not yet officially opened talks with PSG.

– Calciomercato reports that Man Utd forward Anthony Martial has emerged as a January target for Juventus. The France international has struggled for games this season and has openly admitted he wants to find a new club this month.

Everton are on the lookout for a new manager after parting company with Rafael Benitez on Sunday and hope to make a swift appointment. According to ESPN, former boss Roberto Martinez – now in charge of the Belgium national team – is the leading candidate to take over.

Newcastle United have already brought in Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood this window, but The Telegraph reports that they have been knocked back in their bid to bring in Donny van de Beek on loan. The Man Utd midfielder is said to have been put off by the Magpies' position in the Premier League.

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    Ilkay Gundogan came off the bench to inspire Manchester City to the win that secured the Premier League title on Sunday, but spare a thought for Bernardo Silva.

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    It was Silva who made way for Gundogan and, while celebrating his first Premier League title in style, it would seem a rather jolly Jack Grealish could not resist having a friendly jibe at his team-mate.

    Having taken the microphone from Kyle Walker, who had been busy eulogising about John Stones, Grealish said on City's official live stream of the open-top bus parade through Manchester: "Do you know what, I said earlier on the coach, it's been brilliant to win my first title.

    "I want to thank everyone, but the main person I want to thank is Bernardo Silva for coming off in the 70th minute, because he was miles off it yesterday!"

    Grealish seemed intent on being the life of the party, also quipping that Pep Guardiola had signed him because he is the only player capable of beating Walker in a one-v-one, though the England international is probably fortunate that City do not have training to focus on any time soon. He may just have a sore head come Tuesday morning.

  • Man Utd owner Glazer on Ten Hag: 'We know he'll do a great job' Man Utd owner Glazer on Ten Hag: 'We know he'll do a great job'

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    United have not won the title since Alex Ferguson's final season in 2012-13, though they did finish as runners-up under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the 2020-21 campaign.

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  • Salah and Son more deserving of Player of the Season award than De Bruyne, says Thompson Salah and Son more deserving of Player of the Season award than De Bruyne, says Thompson

    Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min were more deserving winners of the Premier League Player of the Season award than Kevin De Bruyne.

    That is according to Liverpool legend Phil Thompson, who also told Stats Perform that Erling Haaland will not necessarily make Manchester City a stronger side next season.

    City playmaker De Bruyne last week edged out Son, Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joao Cancelo, Jarrod Bowen, Bukayo Saka and James Ward-Prowse for the award.

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    However, his 23 direct goal involvements were fewer than Salah (36), Son (30) and Harry Kane (26) managed, albeit having played at least five games fewer than any of those.

    De Bruyne ranked above each of those players for chances created (87), though, and was behind only Alexander-Arnold (90) and Bruno Fernandes (89).

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    "I think it has to be Mo. I know the players have all given it to Kevin De Bruyne and he's a wonderful player," Thompson said. 

    "He's been wonderful for the last couple of months, but it's over a season and people get swayed by people who finish the season well. 

    "That is still in their minds when they're just putting their name on that form, or whether it's all done on phone now. 

    "But I would like to think over the whole year, and yes, Mo hasn't been rattling them in for the last six weeks or so, but overall, he has been.

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    "I'm sorry. Mo Salah was the player of the season and then probably Son has probably been more consistent over the whole nine months."

    City's title triumph was their fourth in the past five seasons and they have already moved to bolster their squad with the signing of Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.

    Haaland scored 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund, a tally only bettered by Kylian Mbappe (90) and Robert Lewandowski (123) since January 18, 2020. 

    But, citing a rather mixed campaign for British record signing Jack Grealish, Thompson questioned whether Pep Guardiola will get the most out of Haaland.

    "He is a wonderful player, a great player," said Thompson, who won 17 major honours across 13 years playing for Liverpool, before a stint coaching the Reds.

    "Is he a missing piece for the jigsaw for them in the Champions League? They can still do things, but it might upset them a little bit. 

    "As you see with Grealish, who was £100million, has that worked? He's playing as a left-winger because it's the system that Pep likes. 

    "So you've got an out-and-out centre-forward who, yes, is full of energy, but he doesn't understand the press that City use. It'll be a change for them. That might change things." 

    Liverpool, who have seen Luis Diaz hit the ground running since joining from Porto in January, are themselves expected to be active in the upcoming transfer window.

    A deal for Fulham teenager Fabio Carvalho is already in place, but Thompson is not sure if signing a big name is really necessary in order to keep pace with champions City.

    "We have a set pattern, though I still hope that we'll sign a couple of players," he said.

    "I do believe that's what you have to do all the time to give that little bit of a buzz in the dressing room, to change things up on the pitch. And we have just come up short."

    The 92 points accrued by Liverpool this season is the joint-eighth most in Premier League history, yet it was not enough to pip City, who finished one point better off.

    Thompson added: "We have to find the magic ingredient to go that extra couple of points to win that league, but we don't have to do too much. 

    "Chelsea signed Romelu Lukaku and he played well those first half a dozen games. They were going to win the league the way the season started and look how that's unravelled.

    "It's not necessarily a gimme that it always works."

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